Burning Man

Reno-Tahoe Airport & the Burners

RNO's 15-foot Mini-Man is a replica of the giant sculpture burned each year during the Burnning Man festival.

The 70,000 “Burners” who attended last week’s Burning Man festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada have to go back to their regular lives now and about 22,000 of them re-entered the real world via Reno-Tahoe International Airport on Monday on Tuesday.

Some of the more than 22,000 Burners heading home from the 2015 Burning Man festival via Reno-Tahoe International Airport

That makes this week one of the busiest times for RNO airport and a week filled with unusual challenges.

“There are lines of travelers with large, dusty bags and unique items like hula hoops being carried onto airplanes,” said RNO spokeswoman Heidi Jared, who explained that airlines were wrapping each piece of luggage in plastic to keep the conveyor belt system clean from the fine playa dust that can bog down the belt.

Because Burning Man operates with a strict “leave no trace” policy, many Burners ended up bringing their garbage with them to the airport. “So RNO puts out extra trash bins on the front curb to collect a variety of items that Burners simply don’t want or don’t have room to take on the plane,” said Jared. 

Large boxes are set up at RNO airport to collect tons of trash and unwanted items Burners will leave behind_edited

Bicycles are the main method of transportation during the Burning Man festival and while many Burners put a lot of effort into decorating their bikes, they don’t plan to bring them home.

In the past, many bikes ended up left behind at the airport, but now the local Kiwanis club sets up a bike drop-off area at RNO to collect the cast-off cycles. The club then refurbishes the bikes and gives them to kids in the community.

The local Kiwanis club has a drop-off station to collected unwanted bikes used at the Burning Man festival. Bikes will be refurbished and given to local children

( My story about Reno Airport and the Burners first appeared on the Today in the Sky blog on USA TODAY in a slightly different version. All photos courtesy Reno-Tahoe International Airport)

Reno-Tahoe Airport celebrates Burning Man

Burning Man Mini Man at Reno-Tahoe Airport

Burning Man kicks off this weekend and the far-out festival has a major impact on the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, which each year hosts approximately 35,000 additional arriving and departing Burners from 34 different countries.


Over the years, the airport figured out how to best welcome and help the Burners get where they need to go – and it seems like quite the set-up.

The airport has travel information on the Burner web site, a welcome table (with travel info, and complimentary water and fig bars), a 15-foot wooden replica called “Mini Man” in Bag Claim and a Burning Man art exhibit in the depARTures Gallery.

RENO LOVE sculpture

artist: Jeff Schomberg

When Burning Man is over, the airport really goes into high gear.

No motorized transportation (beyond Art Cars) is allowed on the Playa, so lots of Burners bring bikes, which are frequently left behind. The airport partners with the local Kiwanis Club on a bike drop-off area so those bikes can get refurbished and given to kids in the community.


Travelers – and their belongings – heading home from Burning Man are often dusty and dirty, and everyone must pack out their trash from the Playa. So the airport has its custodial staff working around the clock cleaning restrooms and emptying trash bins. The airport also keeps a supply of crates on the curb to collect trash.

Because everyone’s suitcase or backpack is likely to be covered in dust, and because all that dust and grime can muck up the airport’s delicate and expensive baggage machinery, all airlines are required to put a plastic bag around each item of checked luggage and/or place it in a plastic tub. So there are plenty of bags and tubs on hand.


Before and after Burning Man, travelers can enjoy the Burning Many art exhibit at the airport. Through the Artists Lens includes over 60 photos of Burning Man artwork and activities by three well-known Burning Man photogrpaher. Look for the depARTures Gallery on the second floor of the airport’s terminal, post-security.


Bye-Bye Burning Man & all that garbage

The Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert is wrapping up and more than 70,000 attendees are leaving Black Rock City – with their garbage.

There’s a recycling program at the festival, but all participants are required to remove their own trash and dispose of it elsewhere – in trash disposal stations in neighboring towns or perhaps in the giant trash bins set up at Reno-Tahoe International Airport.

Burining Man

(Photo courtesy Reno-Tahoe International Airport)

Reno-Tahoe Int’l Airport ready for Burning Man fans

Burning Man Mini Man at Reno-Tahoe Airport
Burning Man 2014 runs from August 25 through September 1 and Reno-Tahoe International Airport is ready to welcome the more than 15,000 “Burners” who will be flying in to attend the festival.

The airport welcomes the Burnes with a welcome area set up in the Baggage Claim to dispense travel information, an eight-foot-tall Mini-Man in the terminal and an art exhibit courtesy of Black Rock Arts Foundation in the depARTures Gallery, which is on the second floor.

Burning Man is the single largest annual event to pass through the airport and has a big impact on the airport’s bottom line: Burners spend more than $10 million on airline tickets, car rentals and on food and gifts in the airport’s restaurants and retail shops.


Reno-Tahoe Int’l Airport loves the Burners

reno miniman

Mini Man at Reno-Tahoe Int’l Airport


The 2013 Burning Man Festival has wrapped up and by now most of the 61,000 “Burners” are on their way home from Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.

At least 15,000 of the revelers passed through Reno-Tahoe International Airport, which is more than happy to have them: according to airport officials, Burning Man is the single largest annual event to pass through the airport, bringing with it an estimated economic impact of $11 million from airline ticket sales, car rentals and money spent in the restaurants and retail shops.

To make the Burners feel welcome, the airport had a eight foot tall Mini-Man in the terminal and, in the airport gallery, an exhibit of art from the Black Rock Arts Foundation.

And the airport was well-prepared after the event:

Because Burners must take out everything they brought into the Black Rock Desert, many of them bring their trash to the airport and dump it there. “We place extra large trash repositories on the curb for this purpose,” said airport spokeswoman Heidi Jared.

And because everyone’s stuff is covered in dust and sand from the desert, airlines wrap all checked bags in plastic or place them in a tub. “If luggage were not treated this way, the sand would clog up the airline bag belt system,” said Jared.